Competitions in Australia, Brazil, Germany, Portugal, the Netherlands and the United States are the first to agree to the requirements drawn up by The IFAB and FIFA to participate in experiments with video assistant referees (VARs).
Organisers of the following competitions can now begin preparations in earnest for initial “offline” experiments and eventual “live” experiments:
Australia: Hyundai A-League
Brazil: several competitions under the umbrella of the CBF
Germany: Bundesliga (as a combined project between the DFB and DFL)
Netherlands: several competitions under the umbrella of the KNVB
Portugal: Liga NOS, Portuguese Cup and Super Cup
US: Major League Soccer
Meanwhile, subject to the successful completion of initial tests, the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2016 is also set to be used as a final test event before The IFAB allows participants to conduct live experiments early next year.
An offline experiment represents a dry run whereby the VARs familiarise themselves with the setup, assess video replays and practice making calls on clear match-changing incidents but without communicating with the referee. This means there is no impact on the game, unlike during a live experiment when the match officials do communicate with each other and the referee can take decisions based on information provided by the VAR.
Live experiments will only begin once all participants have had time to complete the preparations, which is not expected before the beginning of 2017. However, The IFAB and FIFA may in the meantime choose selected friendly matches or competitions such as the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan in December, in which offline and/or live tests are conducted in order to improve the technological set-up and to help train participants, particularly with regard to communication between referees and VARs.
“The IFAB believes the best way to answer the question of whether the use of VARs will improve the game is to test it in different regions, so we are delighted to already have competitions across four confederations sign up,” said IFAB Secretary Lukas Brud.
“The organisers of these competitions can now begin installing and testing video replay facilities as well as training match officials and technical staff in line with the protocol and in consultation with The IFAB and FIFA’s Football Technology Innovation Department.”
Once The IFAB gives the green light for live tests to go ahead, each competition organiser can decide exactly when they will start in their respective events with the live trials.
The IFAB remains in close contact with a number of other associations and leagues from all over the world that are eager to host the experiments.
“There are others that are very interested but need to hold further consultations with their key stakeholders and with different technology providers. They still have time and we expect to be able to officially confirm additional participants in the coming months,” adds Brud.
The first workshop on VARs took place in the Netherlands in May and focused on providing interested competition organisers with information needed to make a decision on whether or not to participate.
Additional workshops will take place in the coming months offering participants further detail about the experiments and procedures. The trials are expected to last two years with a subsequent decision by The IFAB potentially in 2018 or in 2019.